Greetings from Rome, Italy!
Saturday morning at about 8:30 am (Rome time; it was 2:30 am on the US east coast, from whence I had departed the previous afternoon), I arrived in Rome. After getting off the plane, going through customs, exchanging most of my remaining US dollars for Euros, waiting for my luggage (two suitcases, each about 50 pounds), checking in with the JCU representatives in the arrival area, waiting for a shuttle, finally getting on the shuttle (we shoved four people into a seat meant for three), and a moderately terrifying ride into the city, we arrived at John Cabot University.
I was then handed orientation materials, filled out form after form, got my ID picture taken (I'm sure I looked absolutely lovely after about 12 hours of travel, including running through the Philadelphia airport and sleeping curled up in a ball in my airplane seat), paid my key deposit, signed my housing contract, and was informed that my keys were currently unavailable. Evidently the locks on my apartment had just been changed, and the keys were being tested. I had a snack (mmm, croissants), went to the computer lab, got my login credentials, checked my e-mail, re-checked my e-mail, played spider solitaire, and generally wasted about two hours until my keys returned. The guy who gave them to me - Vincenzo, I believe - informed me that he had spent the entire morning at my apartment building, had gotten several keys re-copied, and he was now satisfied that all my keys were working, more or less. I was then - finally - taken to my apartment.
The first thing I did in my new apartment - after letting the neighbors in to have a look around; they chattered in Italian a bit, told me it was beautiful, and left - was pick a bed. With six to choose from and no roommates to be found, I struggled a bit, but finally picked one with a green bedspread near a window.
I considered briefly taking a nap right then, but decided that I needed to arrange some sort of meal for myself for later in the evening. I got out my map of "Groceries Stores in the Area" (thank you, JCU), and headed out.
I ended up walking three blocks to the grocery store when it was actually only one block away. I'm evidently not very good at maps, and the Romans are not particularly great at street signs, either. (Sometimes they're normal-ish street signs, sometimes they're cleverly disguised as plaques on the sides of buildings, and sometimes they just aren't there.) Nevertheless, I found it (hooray!), and purchased myself some shampoo ("shampoo" in Italian, too), conditioner ("balsamo"), hand soap ("sapone"), tomato sauce (I didn't need my pocket dictionary to figure this one out - there was a whole section of jars of sauce), and cheese tortellini (also, no dictionary required - I've eaten enough Italian food to know which words relate to cheese, and the tortellini part is obvious). The cashier said a lot of things to me in Italian, which I do not speak, but I just handed her my credit card and that seemed to work out well.
I returned to my apartment and took a nap. I set an alarm for myself to make sure I only slept for two hours, and I am pleased to report that I only hit the snooze button three times. I got up and immediately made dinner (the gas stove was a bit of a challenge, but I eventually figured it out).
I then figured out which of the wireless internet networks was mine, checked my e-mail some more, took a shower, talked to my parents on the phone (briefly), read a little, wrote in my journal, and went to bed.
I slept for 14 hours. I was impressed.
The past few days have been a blur of meeting people and beginning to find my way around the city. I can now get to the grocery store, the school, the Vatican, my friends' apartment, a department store, and the Colosseum without a map. Hooray!
Enjoy some miscellaneous photos:
This is a view from my walk to school, the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. It's fairly famous, I'm told.
My friend Elle, outside St. Peter's Basilica. Unfortunately, if you have just lost a leg, you cannot enter the basilica. So it would seem.
A view of a small fraction of St. Peter's Basilica. I was overwhelmed. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Elle and I climbed to the top of the Basilica. There were a LOT of stairs, and crazy slanting passages, but we made it. The view was so cool!
Of all the things I saw in the Vatican Museum, this map was the most hilarious. Italy and its immediate surroundings are rather accurate and recognizable, but the further reaches of the world are portrayed most inaccurately. It amused me.